You can’t visit Portland, Oregon and miss out on their great coffee scenes. After all, this town, after Seattle, is the ground for great hand-roasted coffees and everything else that involves this staple drink. When I came to the US Pacific Northwest for the first time back in 1995, Seattle’s Best Coffee was on a roll. A big roll. Seattle was during its soul-searching period about coffees with lots of people exploring the world of hand-roasting coffees and the bean selections that drove up the numbers of independent coffee shops across the city.
The coffee-drinking culture in Seattle was also making its way southward to Oregon. Back in the day when I was a student in Eugene, there were a couple of small and very independent coffee shops. Among them, where we always haunted while pulling an all-nighter, was Coffee People at the corner of 13th Street near the school. Aside from the coffee corners available throughout the campus, there were a few independent shops in downtown area and shopping malls.
In Portland, Courier Coffee Roasters is among those independent coffee shops that moved up from Eugene to Portland for more exposure. When I interviewed one of the owners about two years ago, I found that it was in Eugene that they began to roast their own beans and home-delivered them on a bike, hence the name ‘Courier’ which has now become PDX’s synonym for hand-roasted coffees to be enjoyed with mix-and-match tables or standing and chatting with the owners/head bakers/baristas at their main wooden counter.
There’s no menu on the wall at Courier. Instead, you will choose from their hand-written menu that resembles, at least for me, a scientific scribble of someone who takes the aromas and flavours of each coffee bean very very seriously. Or if you are like me, you can just order ‘iced latte’ (their cold-brewed coffees are just awesome 🙂 or ‘cappuccino’ or ‘latte’ or just hot regular coffee and be well-served. There are some daily bakeries at the counter, too. I happened to chat with the guy who was making me the coffee about those stuff and found that he was also the ‘head baker’ who baked all those lovely items himself.
Their chocolate chip with sea salt cookies are my favorite. Soft and chewy with great taste of chocolate and just enough sea salt for tang. And the unique aroma of freshly-baked cookie is something I so very much love.
I also tried their canale. Dense yet soft and spongy with the custard filling on the inside au contaire with the crisp, yet little chewy and aromatic caramelized crust. This place makes a perfect spot for a quick breakfast on the day when I just want a good cup of latte and a fantastic cookie. Or may be an afternoon perk just before hopping into the nearby movie theatre.
Portland is a city known for being green. Courier is a place that vows to do just so in every step of the way. Being small does not mean you can’t be big in ideas. Reading their blog recently I found that they are now moving towards being a more ‘compostable’ coffee shop with plans to deliver all their byproducts to a composting site in Seattle instead of a landfill. A great move after offering their clients with compostable coffee cups made from USA papers.
You can read more about Courier Coffee here. 923 SW Oak, Portland, Oregon. M-F: 7-5, Sat-Sun: 9-4.
LINKS TO OTHER PDX STORIES
Breakfast in PDX, Kenny & Zuke’s
Breakfast in PDX, Byways Cafe
The Pittock Mansion, Portland, Oregon
Powell’s City of Books
Portland’s Farmers Market
Destination: Portland, Oregon
Portland on YouTube